9 Dec 2014

Maserati Ghibli Diesel Review

Matt Hubbard drives the Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

In 2013 Maserati stated that it wanted to sell 50,000 cars a year. This seemed fantastical for a company who's models started at £80k and had only shifted a shade over 2,000 units in 2012.

But they had a plan. Building on the GranTurismo/Cabrio, a gorgeous coupe/convertible, and  Quattroporte, a vast executive saloon, the company launched the Ghibli, a smaller, more affordable saloon.

The Ghibli sold well and in October Maserati announced it was on course to sell more than 35,000 cars in 2014 with a view to reaching 50k in 2015 and on to a targeted 75,000 by 2018.

In 2015 we'll see the company's first SUV, the Levant, and in 2016 the Alfieri concept will be available to purchase. Beyond that the GranTurismo will be revised. The Ghibli will remain the company's baby - no more smaller, cheaper Maseratis are planned.

To hold up its side of the bargain the Ghibli has to be very good to compete against the Jaguar XF, Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 and BMW 5-series.  At £50k it commands a price premium over all three to the tune of around £8k. Scratch that - it has to be very, very good.
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

The Ghibli is a four door saloon but it's a cracking looking one, all stylish curves and swoopy lines in just the right places. I think as a piece of art it works although some Speedmonkey readers said it looks too restrained, too conservative when they saw my photos.

This wasn't helped by the fact the test car was white. The first Ghibli in the UK, shown at Goodwood 2013, was painted metallic bronze, a colour which highlighted the car's contours much more than plain old white.

Step inside and the Ghibli is one of the more stylish executive cars on the market. I'm a huge fan of the Jag XF's effortless luxury and the Audi's sheer class but the Ghibli adds a touch of Italian style with some glorious brushed aluminium trim highlighting a clean, clear and functional interior.

You'll be disappointed when you look too close though. Some of the materials used are not what you'd expect in a £50k car.  In particular some of the leather, especially on the doors and dash top, doesn't look or feel like fine Italian leather, and the wood effect plastic on the centre console is pretty poor.
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

This is a shame because Maserati is more than capable of crafting some of the best interiors in the business - that in the GranTurismo is amazingly good.

The infoscreen is a good one. It's a touchscreen with just two physical knobs. It's fast, intuitive and controls the entertainment system, satnav, climate and a few other systems.

The satnav is acceptable although I'd have liked to see more trip data available. The entertainment features cover FM, DAB digital radio, CD, USB and bluetooth - all of which are easy to control.  The sound system is fine although I have heard a better quality of sound from some slightly cheaper cars.

My only grumble about the infoscreen is that I'd like to see a standalone button to access the heated seats, just as Porsche has done in the Macan.

There's a load of storage space in the cabin. The door pockets and glovebox are of a decent size and you get three compartments around the gearlever - a pair of cupholders next to the 'stick, a phone storage area with USB recessed in the bottom behind the 'stick and a big box under the armrest (with another cupholder inside).
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

The phone/USB space is not well designed. Charge a phone via the USB and the USB plug and associated cable prevents the phone sitting in it without flopping around all over the pace.

The seating position and chair is wonderfully comfortable and relaxed. The steering wheel is electrically adjustable and the seat has plenty of adjustment (although not as much as the XF) but it takes just a few seconds to get comfortable.

There's only one stalk, on the left, which controls indicators, wipers and lights. It takes 30 seconds for everything to become second nature.

The cruise control and menu selectors on the steering wheel are too small and fiddly. They are relied on for quite a few functions and should have been slightly easier to nonchalantly flick up or down whilst on the go. Instead you have to check that you have actually pressed up or down.
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

The gear selector paddles are big, chunky aluminium items and feel great but they are mounted on the column, rather than the wheel itself, and get in the way of the indictor/lights stalk. You'll find the same paddles in the GranTurismo and similar in the Ferrari 458.

Any criticisms of the cabin melt into the background when you fire the engine up and drive the Ghibli.  Any brownie points lost are quickly regained when the diesel engine is fired up and you realise it doesn't sound like an oil burner.

Maserati's engineers have done a wonderful job of tuning the note from the engine and the exhaust. It sounds like a particularly deep and throaty twin cylinder motorcycle engine - up to 4,200rpm. Check out my video for proof.

The diesel's trump card, though, is its masses of oomph. Oomph is a technical term which means a healthy dose of horsepower and a gargantuan helping of full-fat torque.

The standard-issue 8-speed ZF gearbox transfers this oomph fluidly to the road so power is available, after a small initial hesitation, from 0 to a limited 155mph with nary a hint of let-up.
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Add a sharp corner into the equation and traction will be lost, and the resulting slide will be easily controlled by the Ghibli's finely balanced steering until such point as the traction control grumpily intervenes to spoil the party and save on an insurance claim.

Despite weighing 1,830kg the Ghibli Diesel displays a finesse around corners more suited to a lower, lighter car. Its light steering and easy access to power make flowing roads a delightful playground for those who like to drive their car rather than just be conveyed in it.

The only disappointment in the driving experience is the brakes which have lots of stopping power but not much in the way of feel.

I drove more than 300 miles in the car and achieved around 30mpg. It's a cracking cruiser on the motorway, with not much noise intruding into the cabin. The cruise control is not adaptive but the lights and wipers are automatic.

If you have a budget of £50,000 you may seriously consider the Maserati Ghibli Diesel. It is more stylish than the competition and the brand is arguably more exclusive than any of Audi, Mercedes, BMW or Jaguar.

As for the day to day living with and driving experience I imagine any one of the Germans or the British car would be easier to get on with and just more pleasant to spend commuting time in.

But if you value image, style, a ton of oomph and the pleasure of driving you won't be disappointed if you plump for the Italian. The Ghibli is a flawed but fundamentally fine car.


Price - £49,160 
Engine - 3-litre, V6, turbocharged diesel 
Transmission - 8-speed ZF automatic 
0-62mph - 6.3 seconds 
Top speed - 155mph 
Power - 275hp 
Torque - 443lb ft/600Nm 
Economy - 47.9mpg 
CO2 - 158g/km 
Kerb weight - 1,830kg 
Maserati Ghibli Diesel
Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Maserati Ghibli Diesel

By Matt Hubbard